I’m Taking the Step: From Normal Life to a Scuba Diver Life

I’m Taking the Step: From Normal Life to a Scuba Diver Life

I’m Simon. I’m a 34 year old PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor, and I’m expecting a new Baby in August.

After a tough year at my last job I took 8 months out and worked a dive season in Honduras, going from advanced diver with only 14 dives to Dive Instructor with 200 by the end. I was the happiest I’ve ever been and before I left I promised myself that I would make diving my career.

In the last few months I have sold my car, my house and most of my stuff. I’m just waiting for November-December when the baby will be 5 months old and we’re all out of here.  Er, hopefully I’ll have a job to go to as well.

Divers checking Scuba equipment

AISPIX by Image Source

Of course if it was just my Girlfriend and I, I would not be worried about this. We’re pretty experienced backpackers, and usually would just go somewhere and do it. Now we are expecting a baby to be coming with us there’s a lot more to think about. Like malaria, clean bath water and keeping it in diapers. There’s also the matter of general safety and legal permission to even just be there, never mind work!

Living and diving somewhere for years is different from being on holiday there for a few weeks or a month. I have only worked in diving in Honduras and I never had a work permit. I would be grateful for advice from readers about places where you have lived and worked in diving, as well as from anyone who has taken babies travelling.

Here are some things we’ve thought about as being important

  1. I’d like to be somewhere tropical

    Tropical beach scuba paradise

    Andy Lim

    I know I could work in diving here in the United Kingdom, or back home in Canada but I’d rather see sharks and sea turtles and things and have a great tan.  Yes I hold both a Canadian and an E.U. passport, which might help address my next point.

  2. Permission to live and work there is important

    If I’ve got a job before I go I’m sure the employer will get some kind of visa together, but I need to bring a baby and the mother too! I expect there to be some red tape involved, but some places wouldn’t let the family in for more than 30 days at a time. Poop.

  3. Healthcare is important

    With a tiny baby it would be nice if the tap water was safe enough for them to have a bath in. We’re also going to want a little more than a mud hut with a nurse in it. Veto anywhere with rampant malaria, or where the only doctor is actually a vet who is reliably off his head on Ketamine by 3 o’clock in the afternoon. It doesn’t have to have the most modern hospitals but it does have to have somewhere you could get to within a couple of hours in an emergency.

  4. Safety is important

    Group of scuba divers do open water skills

    Jon Milnes

    I’ll take a chance with a little pickpocketing, burglary and people trying to run scams. We’re hoping to avoid the daylight murdering of people for their shoes or having to flee the country in the middle of the night because civil war has broken out or something. Anywhere where cannibalism is still commonly practised or piracy is a popular profession is probably out too.

  5. Cost of living

    We are a little bit flexible on this one, but I’m probably going to be the only one working for the first year.

    Somewhere I could teach SCUBA all year would be best, otherwise how would I earn money for the low season? With rent on a 2 bedroom place and food for 2.5 people (but not drinking and going out) it would be nice to be able to break even on an instructor’s wage.  It would be useful to at least know what an instructor’s wage and rent actually are.

I Need Your Help

Right now we are waiting for our child to be born. I’m waiting until October before I start applying for SCUBA instructor jobs.

Now I need your help! I would love advices on places to work as a Dive Instructor that fulfilled my requirements!

If you know the place I’m looking for or you have personal experiences that could help me in my job hunt, please leave a comment below!

About The Author


  1. Nicolai Loenne

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Going Pro within scuba diving.
    I wish you all the best Simon :-)

  2. PADI%Star

    Sorry buddy; I have over 40 years experience in diving, operated a successful store with training, travel, retail and rent, and never made as much money as I would have working for somebody else. And the hours I worked… never less than 80/Week. I did also the dive master bit in Cozumel, Bahamas, Honduras and other places. My suggestion: get a driver license to drive an big rig.

  3. Keith Sullivan

    Good luck, Simon. I hope you do well.
    I am wanting to do the same except I am single and 60. I will have a small monthly income from my teaching retirement. I look forward to seeing more comments about the possibilities.

    • Simon Strudwick

      I am looking forward to them too, and as a faithful writer will be expecting to keep you all informed as to how things progress. I’m also a former qualified schoolteacher and have hope that means something to somebody. a) as a former teacher with some years on you – you would seem more professional/experienced and therefore easier to trust? and b) being single you havn’t got all the extra expenses. I wish you the best of luck, and all the encouragement i can – hope you’ll keep in touch as to how it goes!

  4. Maloy

    Hey Simon,

    i have been thinkig to do the same step, away from a first world country to the paradise somewhere.

    a place nice and who would fit your needs can be the Philippines. my family and i living here and we all work all year around. its easy to to the legal stuff like visa and everyone talks english here (big help) Diving is spectacular and the cost of living is acceptable… I am here since 16 Years and have never regret it.

    All the best to your little family!

    • Simon Strudwick

      Thank you for your support and advice. A few people have recommended the Philippines to me. I’m a bit confused about your comment though – on the one hand you are telling me you recommend it and on the other you’re telling me you want to go to a paradise somewhere.. how does that work?

  5. Chris from Fiji Bligh Water

    Bula Simon, good on you for wanting to give it all up to become a full-time Dive Instructor. The biggest crutch is going to be the child. Children are expensive and require a lot of time raising which I’m sure you would like to be part of. As someone who has been working full-time in the dive industry for the past 10 years when you are first starting out as a new dive instructor you pay your dues and make very little money. Often the general consensus with dive center owners are Dive Instructors are a dime a dozen, and they pay low wages and usually require 6-7 day work weeks. Just the way it is. After putting in your dues and if you have other marketable skills, I myself have a college degree in Business-Marketing with certifications in many different areas from Rebreather Instructor, Tech Instructor, etc it makes you much, much more marketable, but does not mean you make more.

    Now if you really want to give it a go, if your wife also holds the British passport then you might start by looking at the BVI’s. With your wife not working as you mentioned it can be very difficult to be able to stay longer than just a few months without VISA runs. But if she holds a British passport then she should be allowed to stay without holding a work permit. Since I’m a US citizen I have not worked in the BVI’s but friends have and seem to enjoy the lifestyle and from what I can tell the wages are enough to live and even save a little if done right.

    Hope this helps, good luck with your quest.

    • Simon Strudwick

      thanks a lot, as it happens she does have a british passport. the bvi’s sound lovely, thugh i wasn’t sure how visas work out there as not all british ‘colonies’ are easy visa places. I do have some other marketable skills – got 02 and nitrox instructor – but also am a certified schoolteacher (masters of education) and so many IT techinical certs i can’t even remember them all. i also am a native english speaker (with BA in english) and can possibly teach scuba in both french and spanish. i’m prepared to make little money – but it’s the dime-a-dozen bit that i am most concerned about (because i’m awesome -and modest)

  6. Simon Strudwick

    Thanks for the comments so far – just to clear this up – i don’t expect to make loads of money from diving. i’ve got other sources of income. i’d be happy to break even.

  7. Soren Knudsen

    Hi Simon,

    First of all I think it’s awesome you’re both brave and adventurous enough to want to go travel with a baby. I know many people would fence themselves in and live the dull suburbian life until the child is old enough to buy alcohol and vote.

    By doing this you’ll live a life of adventure and hopefully have fun as well. To be honest with you, while I can think of many places worth going to and working, the added requirements you have because of the baby cuts down on them quite significantly.

    Chris has some good points though – dive instructors are a dime a dozen. If I were you I’d play the IT-angle – lots of dive shops have absolutely abysmal webpages. If you’re any good with SEO, webdesign and such (as I rather assume from your previous comment) then lots of shops should be willing to take you in. You might not get to dive every day – but then you’d make a living at least.

    I wish you the best of luck, and please keep us posted!

    • Simon Strudwick

      Hi Soren, thank you for your encouragement, and taking the time. Actually I had been given the advice about the IT angle by my mentor when I was a DMT but had forgotten that “a lot of diveshops would almost count IT as another language you speak”, so special thanks for reminding me.

  8. Laura

    Hi Simon,

    As alluring as the appeal of a tropical island, have you considered the Australia route? I am a MSDT currently living and working as a dive instructor in Cairns.
    The reason I suggest it is because living here in Queensland the weather and environment is tropical, healthcare excellent and wages (because you are on the inflated Auz dollar) are decent. The visa situation for me is sweet (I’m on a working holiday visa) but may need some looking into for you and your family, but it’s worth investigating.

    • Simon strudwick

      Thanks Laura, i have indeed looked into Oz and would love to work in cairns for the reasons you mention. Unfortunately im too old for a working holiday visa and i understand most shops are reluctant to go the employer sponsorship route. Although i can still apply for a normal work visa the length of time involved makes this impractical in the short term – though is something i may attempt in future. That said if any oz operators read this who would sponsor me (or indeed anyone anywhere) i encourage you to get in touch. I do appreciate you taking the time to comment and wish you the very best. S.

  9. Said

    Puerto Rico is your paradise the only counterpart is expensive living but food and shelter are provided as government aids. some people say it is not safe but as long as you don’t stab in the back a drug dealer ur fine. contact me if u wanna know more.

  10. Tristan Paylado

    From the time I failed to fulfill my dream of becoming an astronomer, I had focused my attention to the realm of the underwater world. It was more fun and rewarding when I started teaching marine biology and scuba diving.

    If you are a dive pro here in the Philippines, you can easily find a job. Your first option is with the dive shops littered around the country, especially in Cebu, Bohol and Batangas. Or eventually you might consider operating your own dive shop as what most foreign scuba instructors do.

    Signing-up in various marine conservation projects is a great way to start. Most of these efforts are managed by Non-Government Organizations, Government Entities and some Private initiatives.The downside is that some works are not highly paid. But for sure, you will be rewarded with your efforts. This translates into: a sustained marine ecosystem means more amazing dive sites.

    There are more diving jobs offered here in the Philippines. So make sure to talk with your Filipino diver friend as we are always willing to help.

  11. Jacqueline

    I have always dreamed of being a dive instructor by I have a few speed bumps in my way my first is I’m a mother of 3 so my funds are very limited and I’m starting with nothing more than a dream to show my kids that no matter the obstacles u can achieve your dream but I also have a felony so it limits where I can work I’m a U.S. citizen I need to know what my options of obtaining my dream I’m not afraid of putting in the hard work but cost of school in the U.S. seems outrageous so I’ve been looking at schools in Thailand how long am I looking at for school from no experience at all to PADILLA dive instructor please I need as much info as I can get

    • Jacqueline

      Sorry my spell check messed up a few words PADI instructor

    • Simon Strudwick

      Hi Jacqueline, First of all, I hope you do it. I cant speak as to the additional frustrations your felony may cause to do with getting travel visas and work permits but, as you say, it’s an obstacle to be overcome. Thailand would probably be good, or somewhere else where a lot of instructors are trained. I did my IDC in Honduras, where “Zero to Hero” is very much a thing. If you work hard you might manage your training in a couple of months. If you are super likable and great with customers you might get offered divemaster work (once you qualify) which is great experience (if you’re not being paid you might not need a work permit in some countries). I worked for my school as a DM while building my dives (and tended bar in the evenings) to keep costs down. Finally there are 3 things I’d consider in addition to overall cost 1) How well connected is your course director with diveshops which can give you work 2) where will you maximize your opportunities to make connections and get experience to make yourself easier to ‘sell’ 3) your kids! (if you have them now)

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